Kasturirangan report will make Goa secretariat no development zone Minister

Panaji, If the K. Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats is adopted by the Goa government, even the state secretariat would come in a no-development zone, said state Forest and Environment Minister Alina Saldanha Thursday.

"If we go by the report, then even the state secretariat will be a no-development zone. You have to take all stakeholders into confidence while taking such an important decision," Saldanha told reporters on the sidelines of an Environment Day function organised by her department.

The Goa government has already expressed its opposition to the High Level Working Group report authored by the former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief, claiming its data was not authentic and did not reflect ground realities in the Western Ghats range located within Goa's borders.

Kasturirangan had been roped in by the union environment and forests ministry to head a 10-member HLWG, to advise the central government on the recommendations made by the Madhav Gadgil-led experts panel on how to conserve the Western Ghats, a UNESCO recognized natural heritage site comprising of a contiguous forested mountain range stretching from Kerala to southern Gujarat.

The report has faced opposition in several states in the Western Ghats belt including Kerala and Goa.

Saldanha said that the government was not against the environment and the need to protect it, but also added that those staying in villages located in remote areas should not be deprived of development and should be consulted beforehand.

"They are the stakeholders in this case. Should they not be consulted? We have written to the union environment and forest ministry to conduct a detailed, scientific study of the Western Ghats instead of the Kasturirangan report," she said.

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